Getting the Most out of Your Benefits

Small Business Resources: Emergency Loans, Unemployment and More

Business Health Trust’s core value is to be a resource to employers, and that’s especially important now as we navigate the impacts of COVID-19 on our small-business community.

We’d like to share new information related to our previous post on the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

Last week, the U.S. Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the CARES Act (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act). As a part of the new legislation, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has created a nearly $350 billion loan program called the Paycheck Protection Program. This program is available to businesses with 500 or fewer employees to help with payroll, rent, utilities, healthcare costs and more. The SBA has also expanded a number of their existing programs, including the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

The federal government is currently finalizing the details and protocols about how and when different programs and relief will be implemented, and how financial institutions will help facilitate the execution of these programs.

Find out if your small business is eligible and what other questions you need to know before you apply in the CARES Act Q-and-A.

Additional preparation tips include this list of documents your bank may request when you apply for the loan.

CARES Act Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Please be aware that the CARES act also includes two separate unemployment provisions, one which applies to individuals already eligible for unemployment compensation under state law, and another that creates a temporary, federally funded “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” program, which provides benefits to individuals who would otherwise be ineligible for benefits under state or federal law.

For more information, please see the Summary of CARES Act Unemployment Insurance Benefits.

 

 

Roundup of COVID-19 Webinars from Business Health Trust Partner Associations

Looking for resources to help stay informed on the developing COVID-19 outbreak? With our core value to be a resource to employers, Business Health Trust would like to share how our partner chambers are working to stay connected with members.

Although all in-person events have been canceled for the coming weeks, our partners are utilizing their robust networks to host webinars featuring the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 among other resources. The below list is still preliminary, so please be sure to keep an eye on the different Chamber websites or sign up for alerts:

Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
#WeGotThisWA series – free, registration required

Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce

Economic Alliance Snohomish County
Keeping the Lights On: A Business Resiliency Webinar – free, registration required

View upcoming webinars and sign up at https://localsnoco.com/educational-resources/

Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce
Webinar on COVID-19; free and open to all; join at https://zoom.us/j/843841095 or click below times to learn more or for more accessibility options:

Thurston County Chamber of Commerce
Thurston’s Business Leaders Share What You Need to Know; free and open to all; click below to register or learn more:

Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce
Free informational videos can be viewed on the following topics:

SBA to Provide Disaster Loans for Coronavirus-Related Economic Disruptions

Business Health Trust is more than just your source for employee benefits. We advocate for small business insurance needs in Washington state, and are vigilant about staying on top of changes in the small business health insurance market.

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to impact small businesses in Washington and nationwide, we would like to offer resources in light of an announcement from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that it will provide economic injury disaster loans for coronavirus-related economic disruptions.

Please view the SBA’s Fact Sheet as the loans pertain specifically to the COVID-19 impact in Washington state.

To determine whether your small business might qualify, the SBA’s Three-Step Process PDF outlines steps to apply and other details. You may download the following forms to apply for the loan:

For additional detailed information, please view a PDF presentation from the SBA.

More information also is available on the SBA’s Disaster Assistance website.

March “Healthy Living” E-News Focuses on Coronavirus Resources

Usually during this time of year, Healthy Living with Business Health Trust turns its focus toward heading outdoors and fighting spring allergies. But with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continuing to impact us locally and globally, the March edition on Coronavirus Resources: Flyers, Links, Tips and More instead highlights tips to keep you safe and healthy, both at home and at the workplace.

Resources range from helpful flyers that encourage handwashing and other healthy behaviors, to links to our wellness partner including Premera Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente, as well as information on how to access their virtual care resources.

Read more, sign up and and see past editions on our Healthy Living archive.

Coronavirus Resources from Business Health Trust Wellness Partners

Updated on March 10, 2020.

The coronavirus outbreak is evolving on a daily basis, and Business Health Trust wants to help you keep your workplace and your family healthy with updated resources from our wellness partners and beyond.

Medical professionals are advising people to take the same precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of cold and flu to also help prevent coronavirus. We’ve compiled those tips in the following flyers that can be posted at your workplace or other gathering space:

Further tips are available from wellness partner Wellspring EAP:

For day-to-day updates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a dedicated Coronavirus Disease 2019 page that includes the latest travel guidelines and other time-sensitive information. Statewide updates are available daily on the Washington State Department of Health Coronavirus page.

Business Health Trust partner Premera Blue Cross also offers resources on a dedicated coronavirus page that is being updated as the situation continues to evolve. For Business Health Trust members enrolled in medical coverage through Premera, please take note of the following important resources should you become ill or are just looking for some peace of mind:

  • TeladocTalk to a doctor by phone or video anytime, day or night. Be sure to sign up today so you can get care immediately when you need it. Teladoc visits are available at $0 copay through most Business Health Trust plans.
  • Talkspace — If you need somebody to talk to about your fears of coronavirus or other issues, Business Health Trust members enrolled in Premera also have access to on-demand professional therapy through Talkspace. The in-network behavioral telehealth provider gives you access to live video appointments and text messaging with a licensed clinician — anytime, anywhere.
  • Urgent Care or ER? — Not sure which resource is best for you? Check out our article “Need care? Know where to go — and what it will cost” with details to help you decide when to use the 24-hour Nurseline, Teladoc, Urgent Care or the Emergency Room.

For Business Health Trust members enrolled in medical through Kaiser Permanente, there is a dedicated 2019 Novel Coronavirus webpage with tips and resources, including information on the many ways to get care, including:

  • Online visit — Receive a treatment plan and, if needed, a prescription — without a trip to your doctor’s office. Register today to access online visits when you need them most.
  • CareClinic — Kaiser Permanente partners with 15 Bartell Drugs locations in the Puget Sound area to offer walk-in CareClinics staffed with Kaiser Permanente board-certified physician assistants and nurse practitioners who treat minor injuries and illnesses. View CareClinic locations.

These additional tips from Kaiser Permanente on how to “Supercharge your immune system” are also a great resource to help make healthy lifestyle choices that support your immune system year-round.

Why Should Employers Care About Virtual Care?

A recent U.S. study found that the average doctor visit took 121 minutes, including 37 minutes of travel time, 64 minutes of waiting time (both in waiting rooms and in exam rooms waiting for a practitioner) and just 20 minutes of face time with the doctor. These wait times take time away from work and life. These wait times cause employees to delay seeing a doctor and can cause spread of illness … resulting in more people taking time away from work.

Employers have a vested interest in virtual care and employee health and productivity. Virtual care can reduce indirect costs associated with employees missing work for doctor visits, showing up at work sick, or being off work with a chronic illness.

“Why do I care about virtual care?” Jane Billbe, SVP of Operations of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce puts it best: “One — I care deeply about my employees. Two — they have important jobs; I need them here at work. Three — it is more convenient for my employees and more cost-effective for both my employees and me as the employer.”

Virtual care is among the diverse resources offered through Business Health Trust, the employee benefits program available to Seattle Chamber member companies. To learn more, see the Wellness Resources available through Business Health Trust, or contact (425) 201-1972 quote@businesshealthtrust.com to get a quote today.

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Business Health Trust Members Have Access to Preventive Care — at No Cost!

When Business Health Trust members enrolled in medical through Premera Blue Cross receive routine preventive care, your health plan pays for the services — you don’t!

By getting preventive care you:

  • Help avoid serious health problems — and additional healthcare costs — before they start
  • Stay healthy for the people at home and at work who count on you

Preventive services may include screenings, vaccinations and medications. You can get the full preventive care list and guide to using your benefits at Premera.Com/WA/StayHealthy.

Tip: During your preventive care visit, if your doctor recommends other screenings or tests that are not considered preventive, you may have out-of-pocket costs.

Smiling senior man in medical clinic.

What You Should Expect During a Visit to the Doctor’s Office

From our wellness partners at Washington Health Alliance.

You should expect certain things to happen every time you go to the doctor. If you can check off the items on this list, you are having a good experience. Having a good experience at the doctor’s office helps you stay on top of any problems and can improve your health.

  • I was able to schedule an appointment as soon as I thought I needed it.
  • My doctor listened to my questions and gave me helpful answers I was able to understand.
  • I felt respected by my doctor and the entire staff (or care team).
  • My doctor knew my medical history.
  • I had enough time to ask the questions I needed to.

You can also visit the Community Checkup to compare scores for patient experience at providers in Washington state.

Eyeglasses in front of eye test.

Planning Your Eye Doctor Visit

From our wellness partners at VSP Vision Care Inc.

An annual eye exam is a great step in taking care of not only your eyes but your overall health. Eye exams can detect signs of serious conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Visiting the eye doctor doesn’t have to feel intimidating, even if you haven’t been there in a while. Knowing how to prepare for the visit and thinking ahead is an important part of the eye exam process. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your next visit.

What to Know About Your Vision Benefits:
  • For personalized information about your benefits, create an account or log in to your vsp.com account. You’ll see your vision plan and coverage and easily view benefits for all your covered dependents from your desktop, mobile or tablet. Click here to learn how to create an account.
  • Once you’re logged in, you’ll also be able to find a VSP network doctor that accepts your vision plan and view how you can save with Exclusive Member Extras.
What to Think About Before Your Eye Exam:
  • Have I noticed any eye problems such as blurry vision, flashes of light, poor night vision, or double vision?
  • Do I have trouble judging distances or distinguishing between reds and greens?
  • Is my vision impacting me from doing certain activities?
  • How well am I taking care of my glasses or contacts? Do I take my contacts out each night and rinse them thoroughly?
  • Have I had any health issues, injuries, operations, or sicknesses lately that my eye doctor should know about?
  • Does my family have a history of eye problems such as glaucoma or cataracts?
What to Bring to Your Eye Exam:
  • Your current glasses, sunglasses, and contacts.
  • A list of current medications—and not just prescription medications. Your eye doctor can look at the list and determine if your medications could be affecting your vision.
  • The name and address of your primary care doctor.
  • If your appointment includes having your pupils dilated—and most yearly eye exams do—bring a friend or family member to drive you home. Many people can’t see well enough to drive safely after having their eyes dilated.
  • Your vision insurance information.
  • A list of the questions you want to ask your doctor, so you don’t forget them.
What to Ask Your Eye Doctor:
  • Has anything about my eyes changed since my last visit that I should know about?
  • What are my options for improving my vision?
  • Am I a candidate for laser vision correction?
  • What are the advantages of wearing both contact lenses and glasses?
  • How many hours per day can I wear contacts?
  • Should I look out for anything in particular when it comes to my eyes and overall health?
  • How can I protect my vision while staying active?
  • Should I be doing anything differently to care better for my eyes?
  • Can I schedule my next eye exam?
When to Follow Up with Your Eye Doctor:
  • If you receive contacts or glasses for the first time, plan to follow up with your eye doctor after about two weeks so you can report back on how well they are working.
  • If your eye doctor adjusts your prescription and your new glasses or contacts aren’t working out, let your eye doctor know immediately.

With a little bit of preparation, your eye exam should be a simple and straightforward process. Take a few moments beforehand to get ready, and your eyes will thank you.

If you haven’t already scheduled your next eye exam, you can do it now.

Information received through VSP Vision Care channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your eye doctor, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.